Scar Symmetry - The Unseen Empire
Nuclear Blast
Melodic Death Metal
9 songs (43:06)
Release year: 2011
Scar Symmetry, Nuclear Blast
Reviewed by Goat

Despite much howling from fans at the departure of Christian Älvestam in 2008, Dark Matter Dimensions proved that even merely a year after their previous album Scar Symmetry could deliver the goods. Two years later, their seemingly ceaseless assault at the gates of Melodeath superstardom continues, as ever the potent vein of progressive metal running through the band’s veins ensuring that each song has something above and beyond the usual catchy riffs and infectious chorus to keep you listening. The Unseen Empire is something of a step backwards from the very high mark set by its two predecessors, however, not because of a lack of enthusiasm from the dual vocalists who replaced Christian, but simply because the songwriting is a step back from the perfect anthem after perfect anthem of before. That doesn’t mean, of course, that The Unseen Empire is a bad album, by any means – Scar Symmetry even when not firing on all cylinders are still leaps and bounds ahead of the competition. Yet it’s hard not to feel a little disappointed after first listens, a kind of ‘is that it?’ attitude putting you off doing anything except revisiting the older albums to hear what you think Scar Symmetry should sound like.

I’d advise against doing that, however, since if you give it time The Unseen Empire has plenty of its own delights to reveal. It seems a more cheerful album, for one thing, the clean vocals taking on a real ‘happy’ air that works wonders with the over-the-top soloing and keyboard effects – like Dragonforce, but you know, good. Opener The Anomaly is like a tidal wave of cheer washing in, the first of many guitar solos setting the scene before vocalists Robban (growls) and Lars (clean) begin their sparring, leading up to a wonderfully uplifting chorus. It’s the following Illuminoid Dream Sequence where the album really takes off, however, an ominous build-up to a electronic-imbued proggathon which really shows the true talent in this band lies in guitarist and chief songwriter Jonas Kjellgren. Solo leads to blissful vocal section leads to instrumental segue, and no fan of melodic death can help but be held rapt. Sadly, it’s over all too quickly, and although the following Extinction Mantra makes a damn good effort with grandiose chug and explicitly thrilling solo section, it can’t help but come off as slightly second best.

That’s the problem, ultimately, with The Unseen Empire – so few are the genuinely wonderful moments that on previous albums came every song, that you find yourself a little dissatisfied with the otherwise very good moments that fill the rest of the running time. And they are very good indeed – Seer Of The Schaton’s melodic stomp is thrilling, and the sudden melancholy quiet of one particular unaccompanied solo quite beautiful. Domination Agenda’s anthemic roar, Rise Of The Reptilian Regime’s passionate drive, and Alpha And Omega’s cyber metal grinding each will each please as they should. As a whole, The Unseen Empire is another solid slice of goodness from Scar Symmetry... just don’t expect the best material they’ve ever produced.

Killing Songs :
The Anomaly, Illuminoid Dream Sequence, Extinction Mantra, Astronomicon, Alpha And Omega
Goat quoted 79 / 100
Other albums by Scar Symmetry that we have reviewed:
Scar Symmetry - The Singularity (Phase I: Neohumanity) reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
Scar Symmetry - Dark Matter Dimensions reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
Scar Symmetry - Holographic Universe reviewed by Goat and quoted 86 / 100
Scar Symmetry - Pitch Black Progress reviewed by Kayla and quoted 85 / 100
Scar Symmetry - Symmetric In Design reviewed by Crims and quoted 84 / 100
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